how to avoid cowboy marquee hire companies

You must choose your marquee hire supplier carefully and, assuming you get a number of estimates from several marquee hire companies, you will find there is a wide range of prices and choice.

Your wedding celebration is far too important to entrust to a cowboy!

However, beware, cheapest isn’t always best even though it’s very easy to be tempted by an attractive price.

You will need to take every estimate and quotation and compare like for like.

The marquee hire sector is one where there is a low barrier to entry. There are over a 1,000 small marquee companies in the UK alone.

A marquee can be purchased with a small deposit and the balance financed over 5 years, the same with a van or 4×4 vehicle, which can be branded inexpensively by a sign writer.

A simple web site can be set up with images “borrowed” from the marquee manufacturers.

A garage or outbuildings can be used for storage.

Voila, you have a marquee hire company!

So, what are the tell tale signs that a wedding marquee supplier might be a cowboy?

1/ Web Site

Their web site contains only images that are “borrowed” from the marquee manufacturers rather than their own.

So, check out their gallery and make sure that most of the pictures on the site are actually of marquees that they erected for real customers and are not either “borrowed”, or of a show marquee that they built for themselves.

2/ Premises

They don’t have a warehouse or office premises but are storing their equipment at home.

Visit their premises. A respectable marquee company will have a warehouse, offices and even a show room.

3/ Insurance

The “cowboy” wont have any insurance, because it is too expensive to buy.

Why is this important? Well, what if one of their workers is injured building a marquee on your property or a tree falls on the marquee (it does happen!). Who is liable? Do you want to take the chance?

Ask for a copy of their Public Liability Insurance certificate – any respectable marquee hire company will have one.

4/ Health and Safety

All professionally run marquee companies have comprehensive health and safety documentation which is demanded by their larger corporate customers who won’t let them on site to build a marquee without it. Ask to see a copy.

5/ Vehicles

One of the biggest clues that you are talking to a cowboy is what flooring system they have in stock – matting or a solid wooden floor?

Why is that important? Because a solid wooden floor is heavy and needs a 7.5 ton lorry to transport it, which in turn means a VOSA Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) Operators Licence is required to run such a vehicle.

That involves paperwork, expense, systems and procedures. Things the cowboy doesn’t like.

If they only have matting then they only need a van (white van man!),or 4×4 and trailer, to transport it.

Ask them if they have a VOSA HGV Operators Licence or search the web by typing their company name and the word “VOSA”.

6/ Equipment

I won’t bore you too much with the technicalities of a marquee. But, in simple terms marquees come in 3,6,9,12,15,20,25,30 and above, metre widths. 3,6 and 9 metre is relatively light and can be transported in a van. 12 metre and upwards is heavy and long, and needs an HGV (see point 5).

Ask them if they have the stock to do a marquee bigger than a 9 metre width, even if you only need a 9 metre width marquee.

7/ Longevity

A third of businesses fail in the first two years.

It is essential that you find out how long they have been in existence? when were they established?

Do you really want to trust next your marquee event to a start up or someone who has only been established a year?

What guarantees have you that they will still exist next year?

It is a 1 in 3 gamble that you don’t need to take!

8/ Testimonials

A lot of the previous points can be satisfied by doing a little bit of homework and getting testimonials from satisfied customers, or recommendations from the other suppliers such as the caterer.

From them you’ll be able to find the answers to some of the above questions that you need to ask to help you focus in on finding the best marquee hire supplier.

9/ Payment

The cowboy always wants cash. He issues no receipts and keeps no record.

He pays his team in cash, they are not his employees. So, who is liable if they get injured on site (see point 3)?

Do you want to take the risk?

Make sure you get a written receipt for any money that changes hands.

There are many family run marquee companies who operate on a small scale with no VOSA HGV Operators Licence, only 3 to 9 metre width marquees and no solid wooden flooring system, who will do an excellent job in supplying a wedding marquee for your wedding reception and are not cowboys.

I hope the above points will help you identify the cowboys, avoid them and enjoy a stress free marquee event.